Being president of the student body is not all people picture it to be. It’s at times stressful, but Berkan Koroglu views that stress and the role as a blessing. Koroglu hails from Istanbul, Turkey. After completing his primary education, his father encouraged him to move to America in order to become a “better student.” It was only a few years back when he ended up living in Manhattan, New York for eight months and eventually made his way here to Washington.
Chancellor Mark Pagano said, “Berkan has been an engaged leader for the students at UW Tacoma. He actively interacts with and listens to our students and spends much of his time working on the issues most important to them.”
He is currently pursuing a degree in politics, philosophy and economics here on campus. His goal as ASUWT President is to create a campus where every student feels safe and welcome. He also wants to reassure students that their voices are heard and he encourages them to speak with him and the rest of the student leaders team.
How would you describe your role as ASUWT President?
“It’s a stressful role. It requires a lot of sacrifice from me as a student and from day to day duties as my priorities changed. I aim to be available as much as I can for the students of our campus. I know my office hours may not be the best as they’re in the mornings, but I try to compensate that by being on campus as much as possible.
I say it’s stressful not because of the job itself — it’s actually a blessing. It’s fun. I get to meet with a lot of students and hear their amazing stories from all walks of life. But when working as ASUWT President, it must be realized I have a team behind me as well. We all have a lot of ideas as a team, we all have a lot of goals we want to achieve but when it’s not getting accomplished, it gets frustrating at times.
But what’s best about this job is the impact I can make. Talking with students, hearing their stories, is something which I feel fortunate to be a part of. Being recognized on campus is the most rewarding feeling because they know me and see me as a resource.”
How would you say ASUWT served the students this year?
“Our job is to be there to hear students’ concerns and if they are not getting resolved, then we are not doing our job. But it must be understood that there are a lot of people we have to talk to in order for actions to happen and that may take months.
We are working on fixing the parking and study space problems right now as that seems to be a prominent and recurring concern throughout the years.”
What are some issues ASUWT is facing and how do you plan to resolve them?
“Students come and talk to me about issues, but the fact is that it’s not just me that is ASUWT. I am proud to recognized but I am part of a team and we are not as known as well as we should be. The students who come talk to me already know about ASUWT and what we do, and we need to broaden our reach. So, we plan to expand on our marketing by creating posters and making sure that all the directors and other student leaders are known on campus.
There are communication issues amongst us as a team. Ramiro, our advisor for the past 5 months, resigned and so things have been hard on us as we no longer have a mediator to solve internal issues, but we are working through them the best we can.
Also, I feel we need to work on being approachable. I tell this to all my student leader members: we need to put aside the problems we ourselves as students face and be there for the students. It’s key that we differentiate what it means to be a student and to be a student leader.
We aim to make a positive change going forward and want more voices to be heard. Starting this next quarter, we are going to be hosting Town Hall meetings. It will be open door and free food will be served. We encourage all students and staff to attend and speak at these meetings. This is part of our aim to be approachable members.”
What else would you like students to know about you and about ASUWT?
“We aim to leave a legacy and we are working on creating legacy documents that will record everything we are currently doing in order to help the future administration.
I am also trying to start up leadership workshops that will hopefully tell students a little bit more about ASUWT and teach them more about leadership and how students are able to develop on their characteristics to create a positive change around them.
People may think of me as a politician, but I don’t believe so — but one rule in being a politician is to never dance around the issue. Always face it head on, and that’s what I attempt to do.
I always then ask the question if whether we are two-faced because of the position that we are in because we ourselves are trying to discover who we are and what we may have fought for in the beginning may have changed. Growing up in a conservative culture, some of my views get challenged so it makes me question who I am at times, but it helps me discover what I believe in.
But I want every student on this campus to know they have a voice, and every student can come and talk to us. They can email us, find us in our offices, social media, pretty much anywhere. We will respond.”